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Guard and Reserves – not with it yet

February 16, 2011

We have a lot of friends in the Guard and Reserves – my husband was Guard and Reserve for many years. I’ve been hopeful when I see Admiral Mullen talk about no stigma when you seek help; when Gen. Chiarelli tells everyone to admit when they need it; when we keep hearing from senior leadership that we need to make sure everyone gets help.

Then I see this  from Military Times:

Soldier finds mental health stigma still alive in Guard

As the story says:

The Army has gone to great lengths to try to remove the stigma that comes with reporting depression and suicidal thoughts. But Philpot and other soldiers said that while the Army has stood up a suicide prevention task force and instituted programs to deal with depression, more work needs to be done when the soldier leaves a hospital or counselor’s office.

The problem seems acute in the National Guard and Reserve, where soldiers aren’t always together or near treatment facilities.

When you realize that the citizen soldiers who are pulled away from their civilian  jobs; when you realize that the families who are not near any military facilities and often feel abandoned and neglected by the military while the soldier is deployed; These are the men and women who are still suffering the most.

The Army suicide rate increased by 24 percent in 2010 because almost twice as many Guard and Reserve soldiers committed suicide, compared with 2009. In 2010, 145 of the 301 reported soldier suicides served in the Guard or Reserve, compared with 2009, when 80 of the 242 confirmed suicides were not on active duty, according to Army statistics.

And it makes me angry.  Angry and sad.

Rogers said he wants to see counseling sessions and prevention programs for soldiers focused more on dealing with their families.

I’m so glad to see this – that they realize the soldier isn’t a single entity, that he’s  part of a family; that the family unit is suffering.  Now we just need to make sure this mindset is being sent down the chain of command, that the Junior NCOs are hearing the message and realizing that the next one, could be their family, themselves.

There’s hope and  there’s frustration that we aren’t moving fast enough. I’m going with hope!


2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2011 2:31 pm

    I’m a guard wife, and yeah, being in the guard does have it’s negatives, like being further away from military related help. I live over an hour away from any military bases, and have virtually no face-to-face contact with any other military families. Kinda tough. I’m thankful that there are online communities though! There’s pros and cons to guard life. On the plus side, we had the flexibility to choose where we wanted to live, and my husband can go to grad school while in the guard. Those are huge pluses for us!

  2. February 17, 2011 5:06 pm

    There are pro and cons to Guard life, but when you have a force that’s being mobilized as much as our Guard is now, there needs to be services in place to help the soldiers and their families. Unfortunately, this is the fall out. I can tell you for a fact my husband slipped through the cracks when he came home. The nearest VA was over an hour away. Even if soldiers know they need help, they don’t necessarily have the means to make those trips to the VA to get that help. That’s a lot of gas money in travel, and time from their civilian job. I don’t know what the solution is, I wish I had some ideas. I guess one place to start would be to see that these Guard soldiers are just as much soldiers as anyone serving on active duty. We’ve all heard the rhetoric that it’s one Army, but I can tell you when something is messed up, someone ALWAYS says, “Must be the Guard guys.” Funny enough it’s usually the active duty guys.

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